Environmental groups take legal action against Chiquita Canyon Landfill

Former fifth district county supervisor candidate Darrell Park, bottom left, holds up an agreement that he described as one signed 20 years ago regarding the Chiquita Canyon landfill during a press conference and protest at Santa Clarita City Hall on Monday, April 24, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal
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Three Santa Clarita environmental groups have filed litigation regarding Los Angeles County’s approval of the Chiquita Canyon Landfill expansion.

Val Verde Community Association, Citizens for Chiquita Canyon Landfill Compliance and Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment (SCOPE) put in the paperwork for their lawsuit late at night on Thursday, Aug. 24, the last day of the 30-day deadline they could have done so.

“There just isn’t any place to go after there is an approval beside the court,” SCOPE President Lynne Plambeck said to The Signal. “It has to be done.”

The groups cite concerns with the landfill’s effect on air quality, climate change, health, the proximity to schools and the impact on “minority and/or low-income populations.”

Citizens for Chiquita Canyon Landfill Compliance member Jeremiah Dockray emphasized his concern with the health implications of the landfill to those nearby, citing an environmental impact report that said proximity to the landfill exposes residents to cancer, chemicals and pollutants.

“The county needs to protect its residents, especially children, from known pollution,” Dockray said in a statement.

Val Verde residents are “furious” with the approval of the landfill, according to Val Verde Civic Association President Erica Larsen.

“The VVCA community members voted to have us fight this landfill by any means necessary and we intend to,” Larsen said in a statement. “The county should be held accountable for exploiting the low-income minority community of Val Verde.”

Though Plambeck admits the goal of shutting down the landfill may not be achieved with the lawsuit, she hopes it will spur conversation about health risks and the importance of recycling countywide.

While she said she cannot speak for the other organizations, Plambeck said SCOPE is not interested in financial gain from the case.

“For SCOPE, no, it’s not about money,” she said.

The environmental activist said she is a proponent of the higher fees on out of area trash and stricter air monitoring the board approved, but she still wants the dump to close and recycling requirements to be stricter.

“I don’t think there’s a way to get people to change until we say we can’t take it anymore,” Plambeck said.

Since county made their decision, Plambeck said she has not talked to Chiquita Canyon Landfill officials or anyone from the city or county about the landfill. Prior to the appeals hearing, she said she attempted to meet with the Board of Supervisors to no avail.

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